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Arrests show mob running Long Island Teamsters: N.Y. district attorney

By Francesca Trianni

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Manhattan District attorney unveiled indictments on Tuesday of nine reputed Mafia gangsters, saying that a two-year investigation had cracked a $10 million scheme run an organized criminal enterprise that had infiltrated a labor union.

The attorney, Cyrus Vance, said the criminal gangs had been engaged in mob staples such as extortion, loan sharking, and gambling around the New York City region, but also new ventures such as trading in prescription drugs dealing from Oxycodone to Viagra.

"While in the last few decades we have seen a decline, organized crime is by no means extinct," Vance told reporters at a news conference.

The nine reputed members of the Bonanno crime family, including a Teamsters union president, were charged with enterprise corruption, the state version of the federal crime of racketeering.

According to the indictment, the election of reputed Bonanno associate Nicholas Bernhard to president of Teamsters 917 on Long Island "was explicitly promoted" by his fellow reputed mobsters. He then "used his position in Local 917 to benefit himself and a crew of the Bonanno organized crime family," the indictment said.

The union, which represents about 1,900 workers in liquor, automotive, parking and other industries, became a hub for gambling and loan sharking, Vance said.

"Whatever name you call it, the Mafia, Cosa Nostra, the mob, the 158-pages long indictment demonstrates that organized crime is still operating in New York City and it still has its hooks in the labor movement," he said.

All but one of the defendants was arrested on Tuesday.

Investigators used court-ordered wire taps and search warrants in their probe.

(Reporting by Francesca Trianni; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Philip Barbara)

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